Feminism: The Debate Continues…

Last week, the Daily Mail reported that UK TV cook, Mary Berry described feminism as ‘a dirty word’, saying “why on earth would they (women) need a movement to promote and protect them?” -and so the ‘feminism’ debate continues in 2013.

Last year, Katy Perry caused similar uproar when she accepted a Woman of the Year award and said, “I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women” and worldwide many shook their heads in disapproval when Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer distanced herself from the term saying she “believed in equal rights,” but did not deem herself a feminist. “So what’s so bad about being a feminist?” many feminists continue to cry in frustration.

Although I consider myself a feminist, I completely understand why women would want to distance themselves from the label, but the idealist in me can’t understand why they don’t help re-market the term? After all, if it weren’t for the Feminist movement, they wouldn’t enjoy their current success, or it would at least be incredibly difficult to prosper in their fields.

The connotations associated with feminism are limiting and this is evident by the way some people’s facial expressions change when you say you’re a feminist. It’s often met with a look of repulsion, where you can see them picturing a hairy-armed butch woman with one hand on a motorbike and the other arm raised in the air, clasping a burning bra. Not that there is anything wrong with this imagery – the concern, as stated above, is that it’s just so limiting, especially to a younger generation of women who prefer to be like these pop culture icons, strong, smart and sometimes even stylish.

So, it seems feminism has experienced a serious case of bad PR, and as a result, these strong independent high profile women whose lives are centered on generating good PR naturally want nothing to do with the term. In addition to this, there are many strands of feminism, so the perplexity often leaves many wanting out of this often confusing and at times even judgmental group. Some vocal feminists are often perceived as cruel, insensitive and have an elitist attitude toward those who don’t fight strongly enough for the cause. But like all groups, you have your moderate and radical members, and believers in such an important cause shouldn’t flee at the sight of bad PR. Especially successful women who are soaking in feminist ideals but just don’t like the label.

Sadly, many modern women living in the western world don’t recall the severe injustices faced by women in the past. Rights today that we see as a ‘given’; equal pay, equal opportunities, and the right to drive a car or even vote! Progress was not achieved without the feminist movement. That’s why modern men and women of the feminist movement need to unite and change this limiting perception of feminism, because the job is not done, not yet anyway.

Sexism is rife, although often subtle – it’s still rife. So as a cupcake-loving, pink-sequined-dress-wearing, mother, wife and teacher, I proclaim that I am a proud feminist and my husband is one too (even if he doesn’t know it yet, he still has issues with the term, preferring to be called a ‘gender equalist’).

I look toward the future with a sense of hope, that feminism will be viewed differently. Until then, I refuse to be restricted by stereotypes associated with feminism. If you believe in gender equality and see that the job is not done yet, I challenge you to ignore the bad PR that feminism has had. I challenge you to raise your glass and celebrate the beauty that is feminism, that includes you Mary Berry, Katy Perry and you too Ms. Meyers – say it with me, ‘I’m a feminist – Yahoooooo!’ You’ll feel better, I promise.

You can read more from Naomi Tsvirko on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Feature image via.

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